Our Picks: Piemonte Wines for the Summer
We begin our Italy Summer Tour in Piemonte, exploring seven light, fruity wines that are perfect for summer drinking. Made from indigenous grape varieties that are ideally suited to the region’s foggy mornings, this selection of light juicy red, fresh aromatic white and lightly sparkling sweet wines captures the essence of ‘Piemontese elegance’.
Local white grape varieties like Cortese, Timorasso, and Favorita produce highly aromatic wines that are ideal for early drinking. However, in the hands of experienced viticulturalists, Cortese and Timorasso in particular can achieve great intensity, complexity and vibrant acidity, and these wines have the potential to age for many years in bottle.
Dolcetto (‘little sweet one’) is one of the most treasured yet often overlooked of Piemonte’s winemaking traditions. This red variety can express its full potential when grown on the Langhe’s prime hillside sites, above the Nebbiolo plantings. Similar to Barbera, Dolcetto produces wines with an elegance, brightness of fruit and suppleness that makes them eminently drinkable, as well as more textured, complex and age worthy examples (see G.D Vajra’s `Coste e Fossati` Dolcetto d'Alba).
The light red Brachetto and golden-skinned Moscato are two distinctively aromatic grape varieties frequently used in the production of lightly sparkling sweet wines. Often pigeonholed as dessert wines, the naturally low–alcohol and invigoratingly delicious Moscato d’Asti and Brachetto d’Acqui drink beautifully as aperitivi with almonds or are a great match for salami and grilled fish.
Corino Giovanni di Corino Giuliano, Langhe Nebbiolo 2018
The Corino family makes wines that bridge the gap between tradition and modernity, and are wonderful expressions of the estate’s nine hectares of vineyard in prime sites just below La Morra. Current owner Giuliano is helped both in the vineyard and in the cellar by his wife Stefania, daughter Veronica, and son Andrea. Their unoaked Langhe Nebbiolo is usually released after one year in stainless steel and is approachable in style, with beautiful purity, fragrance and great balance.
La Giustiniana, `Montessora` Gavi di Gavi 2019
Situated in the heart of the commune of Rovereto, La Giustiniana is focused on showcasing the potential of Gavi di Gavi from the estate’s two single vineyards: Lugarara and Montessora. While they sit side by side at 300 metres above sea level, the two vineyards have very different soils and produce very different expressions of the Cortese grape. The alluvial and clay soils of `Montessora` give a more mineral wine with great purity and concentration of fruit on the palate, which develops beautifully in the bottle over time..
Luigi Baudana, `Dragon` Langhe Bianco 2019
This small estate of just over four hectares of vineyard in the commune of Serralunga d’Alba has been run by the Vaira family alongside Luigi and Fiorina Baudana since the 2009 vintage. Their `Dragon` Langhe Bianco is a blend of local and international white varieties that is very unusual for the Barolo zone - Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (planted in the north-eastern part of Cerretta by Luigi in the early 1980s) with Nascetta and Riesling from the G.D. Vajra vineyards in Barolo – and illustrates the Vajra thirst for excellence and experimentation. This boutique wine displays a lovely lift and depth and perfume with real interest on the palate.
Contero, Brachetto d'Acqui 2020
The Marenco family are Moscato and Brachetto specialists and their 11-hectare Contero estate remains one of the best producers of the distinctive Moscato d’Asti and Brachetto d’Acqui wines. The vineyards are situated on steep hills, on tufaceous-marl soils , in a perfect amphitheatre in the commune of Strevi (the heart of one of the best zones for Moscato in Piemonte) and produce fruit of stunning quality. For the Brachetto d’Acqui, fermentation is halted at 5.5% ABV by filtration, leaving around 100 g/l of residual sugar, then bottling takes place under pressure for a light sparkle. The wine has a lovely rose petal character with a rich, persistent mousse and a bittersweet note on the finish.
Massolino, Dolcetto d’Alba 2019
The Massolino Dolcetto d’Alba is a homage to a grape variety that has been so important for the Langhe region. Sourced from a 3.2-hectare vineyard in Serralunga d’Alba, located at 330 metres above sea level, with an average vine age of 20-25 years, then fermented in stainless steel, it is a perfect expression of this bright, fresh and fruity variety. With lovely supple tannins, refreshing acidity and nice depth on the mid-palate, this gem of a wine is the perfect foil to the region’s antipasti and pasta dishes.
Deltetto, `Servaj` Langhe Favorita 2020
This family-run estate covers 21 hectares of vineyard in the gently hilly region of Roero on the northern bank of the Tanaro. The soil is sandier in this area and, as a result, the wines are more aromatic and less structured than those from the Langhe hills on the south bank. Their Favorita (the local name for Vermentino) is sourced from the `Servaj` vineyard in the Roero hills. ‘Servaj’ means ‘wild’ and is a reference to the wild character of the area, which is covered with vineyards and forests. The wine is exuberantly perfumed with orange and citrus, and lively on the palate.
Vigne Marina Coppi, `Fausto` Timorasso 2017
Timorasso is a local grape variety grown mainly in Tortona. Its thick skins create wonderfully aromatic wines with great ageing potential. This wine is dedicated to legendary cyclist Fausto Coppi, the father of Marina Coppi and grandfather of winemaker Francesco Bellocchio. It is the flagship wine of this four-hectare estate in the small village of Castellania and one of the very best examples produced of the variety. Sourced from two vineyards - Gabetto and Montagnina – that lie at 400 metres above sea level, it is resolutely modern in style, having been fermented solely in stainless steel, yet is concentrated, long and mineral, with the signature Coppi vibrancy and finesse.